After Adam’s Peak hike, from Siripada we took an auto(tuk-tuk) to get to Hatton because the next bus was an hour or so away. Plus, I loved the idea of taking tuk-tuk through the mountains and around the lake because we stopped as we wished. If I remember correctly we paid Rs. 1500 for the tuk-tuk from Siripada to Hatton (January 2016).
We were told that from Hatton there is a direct bus to Embilipitiya. So we hoped to catch the bus at 12:30. The booking office at Hatton bus stop gave us that info the day before. Apparently they were wrong. When we reached Hatton and asked around, they said the bus left an hour ago. Now the option is to go Balangoda and then take the bus to Embilipitiya, which we did. But from Balangoda, the bus conductor got us on a Rathnapura bus which is a round about way to get to Embilipitiya. We were a bit frustrated after knowing the fact that the bus is actually going to Rathnapura. So got down at Pelmadulla and took a tuk-tuk to our Eco lodge near Udawalawe. Turned out to be a 10-hr day for a 120km journey. Most of it was through the mountains and windy roads however.
After checking-in we spoke to the receptionist to arrange for a morning safari to Udawalawe National Park. It was $4500 for the jeep. So, if you have more people, you get to share the cost.
We started at 5:30AM and paid the entrance fee at the park (Rs. 3500/pp in January 2016). Since it was just the two of us in the jeep, we stopped as we pleased.
The park is filled with gorgeous looking peacocks/hens, elephants, monkeys, spotty-deers, and variety of other birds.
It is surreal to be in the forest so early in the morning, listening to the birds chirping and simply watching animals go about their way of life.
There is nothing to buy/eat at the park. Take whatever you want with you. And once you are in the jungle there is only one open campground to take a quick break. There is no toilets. The entire safari is about 4-5 hour in the park.
So, plan accordingly especially if you have kids with you. There were quiet a few jeeps that we crossed with small kids and big groups.
Luckily our driver decided to go through the route where we barely saw other jeeps. So, to an extend we felt we had the entire forest to ourselves.
Original plan was to go to Yala National Park, time constraint we didn’t make it. But, I was extremely satisfied with Udawalawe.